Should Advisors Have Social-Media Relationships with Clients?

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Social media is causing me a lot of angst lately. I know we need to be active online and we have a firm LinkedIn page as well as our own individual pages that we keep updated. We post blogs and articles we find interesting and many times clients or colleagues will comment.

It’s the personal side of things that is confusing to me. I have my own Facebook page and because I have college-aged kids I am active on Instagram too. I consider these my personal accounts where I might post something about my family, or a reaction to something happening in the world. I am careful not to post religious or political opinions given the sensitivity everyone seems to have lately for these. But I do have a personality and it comes through on my personal pages.

The problem is my clients often send me invites to connect with me. Some know me well. I consider them to be friends, and I have no problem accepting their connection but some are either newer clients or ones where I don’t believe I have a really good “friendship” where I want them to know all about me.

I might be overreacting. But, here is an example: I recently bought a second home. It’s very nice and looks expensive, but there is a story around it. I helped a family in trouble by purchasing it, and they rent it out at a discount from me and so on. I don’t want to share everything publicly to protect this family, but I eventually do want to rent out the home to other renters so I would like publicize its beautiful features on my social media. If a client saw it I fear they might wonder where their fees are going.

On another personal note, I have a son who is a good kid but who is kind of lost. Sometimes my wife will post something and tag me and she is doing it tongue-in-cheek (you have to understand her style to know where she is coming from). Clients who don’t know us might think we are not good parents.

People misconstrue things in public forums and I value my reputation. Do I simply ignore the social-media invites or respond to clients saying I don’t mix personal and business and encourage them to join me on LinkedIn? What is the protocol for this?